Malilong: You owe us, Mr. Vice Mayor

·3 min read

WHAT happened to the uncollected garbage at the Inayawan transfer station? Two weeks ago, the City Council was poised to declare a state of emergency in the barangay because of the huge piles of garbage at the temporary dumpsite. And then, everything — and everybody — went quiet. What went right?

Even if something did (happen right), will Vice Mayor Michael Rama still pursue the investigation that he promised as acting Cebu City mayor when the issue surfaced? Is he still interested to find out if the deficiencies that, he said, he noticed in the contract between the city government and the private hauler are really existent?

Any investigation should start with how the contract was awarded. What were the terms of reference? Is it true that one of the conditions was that a bidder must own or partner with a duly licensed landfill within Cebu City?

There is only one such facility with complete papers, including an Environmental Compliance Certificate, that which is located in Binaliw. Interestingly, when he assumed office, Mayor Edgardo Labella categorically declared that he was against the operation of the Binaliw dumpsite out of concern for the health of its residents. As a result, the city’s previous contractor was forced to dump the waste in Aloguinsan.

The Aloguinsan facility, however, reportedly had its own share of legal problems consisting of a cease-and-desist order by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Is it possible that as early as in 2019, the city’s waste was already dumped in Binaliw, unknown to Labella?

There is money in garbage. I am not referring to the few pesos that scavengers earn by sifting through the stockpile for recyclable items that they can sell but to the hundreds of millions of pesos that the city allocates every year to pay for hauling and tipping fees, among others.

If you look at the city’s streets and public places, you can say that the millions were well-spent. Unlike in the past when the whole city looked like one huge waste basket, it is a lot cleaner now. But don’t tell that to Inayawan Barangay Captain Bryan Repollo because it now appears that we merely swept the dust under the rug, or less figuratively, we simply unloaded them unto Repollo’s front and back yards.

Who owns the land being used as transfer station, by the way? If the City does not own it, is it paying rental to the owner? If so, how much?

And by the way, isn’t the transfer station supposed to have been closed already? City Councilor Joel Garganera knows this because it was he who initiated the case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, which sustained his position that the facility should be closed.

And why is there a need for a transfer station? The City government purchased about 30 brand-new garbage trucks in 2019 to augment its aging fleet. The barangays also have their own trucks. Instead of paying a fortune to the haulers, why don’t the city and the barangays buy more trucks that will haul the garbage straight to the landfill, whether in Binaliw or wherever?

You promised an investigation, Mr. Vice Mayor. You owe it to us.

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